Colorado ski resorts give healthcare reform mixed reviews

A story in the Steamboat Pilot last Wednesday titled "Health policy raises red flags at Steamboat Ski Area" discusses the $2,000 fines insurance that will be levied against businesses who don't provide health insurance to employees. Seasonal employees, who do much of the hard work for Colorado's ski industry, are not exempted.

In Mike Lawrence's story, Steamboat Ski Area honcho Chris Diamond comes down pretty hard on the new bill:

"The potential impact to Colorado Ski Country member areas is somewhere between $9 million and $14 million in penalties (per year)," Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond said Tuesday, citing a Colorado Ski Country USA estimate. "It's a stunning blow to any large employer like ours that employs seasonal staff."

Diamond asserts that Steamboat would start taking a $2 million annual hit if a broader exemption for seasonal workers isn't passed in the interim.

But reps from Durango and Telluride take a different stance.

According to a

Durango Herald article

by Dale Rodebaugh that ran yesterday:

Telluride Ski Resort is set for now, communications manager Tom Watkinson said. The resort employs about 760 people during peak times.

"We offer health insurance to all employees - part-time, seasonal or full-time," Watkinson said. "But with all the health-care stuff, it's too early to tell what we'll do."

Amendments to the legislation are possible, Watkinson said.

"There's a lot of stuff in play," he said. "We're not there yet."

Beth Holland, public relations and communications manager at Durango Mountain Resort, which employs 800 to 900 workers, said the ski center provides medical insurance to year-round and seasonal salaried employees who work 32 hours or more per week.

I guess my question to Mr. Diamond is why some resorts offer seasonal employees health plans and some don't

(Image from PsychaSec's Flickr photostream)

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